Sedaven: Humble beginnings
(Sedaven: Humble beginnings was written in 1970 by Matric student Kathy O’Reilly and published in the 1970 edition of the Protea – Pictures and explanatory comments added by editor.)
A little more than two decades ago the site on which Sedaven is now situated was a mere wind-blown, deserted piece of ground, and a sanctuary for numerous wild creatures and birds.
Koppies clothed in verdant serenity stood like lonely sentinels outlined against the sky. Pink-tinted proteas smiled down upon the rich golden ground.
In scouting around for a suitable site for the establishment of a high school, Pastor J.B. Cooks, then the Educational Secretary, came across the above mentioned site. Fortunately it complied with all the requirements.
It had to:
- be away from the large cities,
- be near a hospital,
- be near a railway station,
- have a healthful climate,
- have a good water supply,
- be a place where there would be an opportunity for young people to be out in nature, where God’s handiwork could be seen and appreciated.
Providentially this 800-acre farm was found to be ideally situated for the establishment of the proposed high school. It was located only five miles (8 Km) from Heidelberg, a homely town in the Suikerbosrante. Building operations were soon under way.
Although Helderberg College caters for college students and high school pupils, it was felt, especially by the believers in the Transvaal, that Helderberg was rather far away, and that a local high school should be established for pupils from the northern provinces. The idea was that Sedaven would be a preparatory school for Helderberg College.
Sedaven: Humble beginnings
Sedaven High School was inaugurated on 16 January 1951. Pastor Jan van der Merwe, the then-president of the Orange-Transvaal Conference must have smiled to himself to have seen his brain-child shoot up into a startling reality, as it was under his enthusiastic leadership that the decision was made to establish this boarding high school.
Being a Conference project, Sedaven has of necessity grown slowly, but, through the years, more and more buildings and facilities have been added.
At first schooling from Std 5 (Gr. 7) to Std 8 (Gr. 10) was provided for, but, in 1953 the first matriculation class was taught.
To date (1970) Sedaven has had five principals.
Pastor H.F. Steenberg will be the new principal of Sedaven as from next year (1971).
Pastor du Plessis, who has been a wonderful principal and an invaluable guide to Sedaven’s young people for the past decade, is to retire at the end of this year. He will surely be missed by all the pupils who have grown to respect and value his fatherly counsel.
|Most of the recorded memories about the life and times of Sedaven come from student alumni. The following information and anecdote relate to some of the single staff who lived in the “teachers’ flats” in 1957. Dr. D. Birkenstock who started his teaching career at Sedaven remembers:…
I was trying to recall who lived in the Teacher’s flat in 1957. On the ground floor it was Isobel Brydon, myself and in the large flat was Jessie Patrick. On the top floor, in the two single rooms was Billy van Heerden and Donald Bertelsen. I think the big flat was shared by some ladies, I think Betsy le Roux, Marie Botha and I do not recall any others. We all had coal stoves that also heated the water for our showers and baths.
On one occasion Jessie had given us a number of Avocado’s she had received from Durban, I had no place to store them so I put about ten of these inside the oven of the stove, we would use only once or twice a week and we would remove them before we made the fire in the stove. You have guessed what happened, it was Sunday evening and Billy made the fire in the stove, soon it was burning brightly and for some reason we went to Billy’s flat to chat. After a while we smelt something strange and we went back to my flat. At first we could not trace the smell but then I opened and the sight that greeted my eyes was ten pitch black blobs in the oven.
Sedaven truly has lived up to its motto: Non Sibi Sed Deo – not for self, but for God, in that many of its pupils have entered the denominational work.
|The following is another 1957 memory from Melody Schleicher a student at the time:
A very funny incident happened one night at the girls’ dorm. I think it was the night we all waited up to see the Sputnik. In any event, some of us noticed a bicycle and two chaps going from behind the dining room/kitchen building and sneaking behind the girls’ dorm. A couple of us went to the wooden fence and peeped through to see what they were up to. It was Athol de Beer and Rodney Austen. They had a sheet and were fumbling around with it, the idea being to gives us girls a fright. Spooks in the night kind of thing. I rushed to my room and grabbed my sheet off the bed and was back again before they were quite ready to open the gate and waited wrapped in the sheet. As the gate opened I stepped forward and said “Boo”. You have never seen such surprised chaps in all your life. Rodney Austen bolted and Athol had trouble getting onto his bike to make his getaway. I am chuckling now at the memory.
Today (1970) Sedaven, with its modern library and laboratories, and its dormitories, which are at present being renovated and extended, compares favourably with any of our other institutions.
Visitors coming to Sedaven for the first time are pleasantly surprised at its setting and scenic beauty.
Such are its surroundings, that the Rand municipalities have bought up 13,000 morgen adjoining Sedaven for the establishment of a nature reserve.
The beautiful surroundings and the underlying purpose of the school inspired the words of the school song which echoes in the minds of all alumni:
|Where Heidelberg by mountain range and flowing stream is bound, where sunny veldt the seasons change and songs of birds doth sound, we live and work in love and peace and try both God and man to please. Take pride in duty done, unite in work and fun!
Sedaven, Sedaven, we glory in thy name, thy fortunes ever be the same, be the same!
|Aan Heidelberg se berg en hang langs ruisend waterstroom, in sonnig veld met voelgesang wat ruis uit bos en boom, woon ons in liefd’ en vree byeen en doen ons plig en vra sy seen. Vra Sy seen!
Sedaven, Sedaven, ons roem jou voortbestaan! Waar jy ons lei daar sal ons gaan, sal ons gaan!
Even if the work that was studied at school eludes the minds of old Sedaven pupils, the fun they had at Sedaven never will. Not even time will wipe from their memories the nocturnal call of jackals and the barking of baboons in the koppies. Memories like mystical fragrances linger on.
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Cover Image taken from Wikipedia. License. CC BY-SA 3.0